Our internet provider’s office staff view customers as an inconvenience, to be frozen out by indifference or downright rudeness, and there is nobody on call outside of the very limited office hours.
Rain and high winds have a tendency to cut off our connection to the world at large, as do the wrong sort of snow and leaves on the line at Surbiton. It is doubly inconvenient, as we have no mobile signal down here in the rambla, and the land line depends upon the internet.
I mention this only by way of explanation as to why we were peacefully ambling about in our dressing gowns one Thursday morning, oblivious to the fact that the builders and our interpreter had been trying to contact us.
Someone, somewhere in internet supplier country had a productive five minutes, and at about ten the ‘phone rang.
“Jose-Manuel is at the house. They can’t put the fosa septica where you agreed, because they have hit solid rock. He suggests further away from the house, but that will involve taking out an orange tree or two.”
Even if we leaped in the car immediately, the fifty kilometre trip to the house would take a while, so we were relieved to hear that the builders had gone for breakfast. We threw ourselves together and made our way as quickly as we could.
When we arrived, there was a JCB in the garden/orange grove. It was MASSIVE and had laid waste much of what I plan to be my garden. It had come in through our neighbour’s piece of land, and had knocked great lumps off the pomegranate tree that had been in the way.
There followed a bizarre conversation between Jose-Manuel (the builder) Gaspi (the plumber) the JCB driver, our lovely interpreter and ourselves. The decision was made by committee, helped by an emergency call to the cess pit emptying chap, to check how long his nozzles are.
The digger man was frighteningly efficient. Within minutes, he had a very neat, rectangular hole, several metres deep in the first section of orange trees. We now know that our lovely, fertile soil goes down at least three metres.The digger sat in the middle of my garden – to – be, surrounded by flattened undergrowth and the ravaged remains of an orange tree and a fig tree. “Eh! barbacoa!” as the builder said. Every cloud …
I rather belatedly asked our interpreter to plead with them not to kill my nispero tree as well. We are too late for nispero chutney making this year, but I have high hopes for future batches.
We watched in amazement as the builder and the digger man manoeuvred huge sections of concrete pipe onto the front of the digger and then dropped them into the hole, lining them up to form the second chamber of our new waste management system.
I pruned a straggly rose bush on the terrace and set to work tidying up the very overgrown olive tree in the corner while the digger man went off for some gravel to fill around the pipe.
Our solicitor, Ramon, put in an appearance to say that the water company man had been out again, and that we could not have the water supply put into our name until the valve was replaced, the rusty pipe was replaced, and an anti fraud gizmo was fitted. This made far more sense than replacing the door, and we wondered why this message had not been conveyed to us before.
As with all other oddities and weirdnesses we encounter here, we turned to each other and repeated our new mantra: This is Spain. Fortunately, Gaspi the plumber was still on site, so we asked him to sort it out, which he has since done, for a very reasonable fee, blessim.
We left the house in the capable hands of Jose-Manuel and his team, and returned home. We did not expect to receive a call from our neighbours quite so soon. Apparently, the large, green body of the first part of the system, which was supposed to be buried under the garden, was proving a problem, as there is rock not far below the surface.
“Not to worry,” they said. “We have slung an extension cable over the wall, and they can dig it out with a Kango tomorrow.”
For the umpteenth time since we first saw Cortijo Limonero, we thanked God for wonderful neighbours.
A couple of days later, the lovely new septic tank was in situ, the sacrificial orange tree was turning brown and crisp in the sun and the wasteland that will become my garden was recovering from the depredations of the digger man. A brief check on his route into the garden showed that he had smashed the walls of an asequia and decimated the large pomegranate tree between our land and the neighbour. The asequia has been re-concreted, and looks fine, but the pomegranate will take a year or several to recover.
Jose-Manuel tells us that they will concrete everything in once the house plumbing is connected to the tank, so I have a little longer to wait before I can start on my chicken palace. I shall use the time to adapt my plans to include a fabulous baroque chimney stack to hide the stink pipe!